[b-hebrew] exodus, dating of linguistics

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Sat May 29 08:07:55 EDT 2004

On 28/05/2004 23:24, Michael Abernathy wrote:

>Just for the sake of discussion, I have a question for the group.   Assuming that the Exodus actually occurred as it is described in the Bible and that it was recorded by someone about the time of Joshua, what linguistic evidence would we expect to find in the Scriptures?
>I should think that the strongest evidence would be in those passages which have been miscopied by a later scribe due to some change in the language that obscurred the meaning.
>Has anyone detailed the differences in the Hebrew language from a historical perspective?
Well, despite what Walter claims, it is possible to reconstruct, at 
least speculatively, some of the history of Hebrew before the 10th 
century BCE. For example, it can be compared with Ugaritic and Amarna 
texts, admittedly not written by Israelites but indicating the state of 
the NW Semitic languages at that time.

As for the kinds of errors which Michael is looking for, one alleged 
example is that 'elep, as used in Numbers 1:21,23,25...41 etc apparently 
with the meaning "thousand", originally meant something like "captain". 
Thus Reuben would consist of 46 captains and 500 men. This implies that 
totals like Numbers 1:46 were added, or at least corrected, by scribes 
who misunderstood "captain" as meaning "thousand". As a consequence the 
number of people who left Egypt and wandered through the wilderness is 
reduced to an allegedly more feasible number. I'm not saying that I 
support this interpretation, just that it has been proposed and depends 
on linguistic change and later scribal misinterpretation.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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